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W.Va. Dealer Files Federal Suit Over Birth Control

July 2, 2013

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Days before his dealership is forced to start following Obama’s Affordable Care Act, Joe Holland is asking a federal district court to exempt his operation from having to offer certain birth control in his Chevrolet franchise’s insurance packages.

The Charleston, W.Va.-based car dealer claims his business is rooted in Christian beliefs and opposes the “morning after pill.” Holland’s attorney Jeremy Dys told WSAZ in a Skype interview Tuesday that the government’s new healthcare law would penalize Holland for “simply doing business according to his values.”

Holland isn’t against birth control, Dys added, just ones that are used after conception. “He has no objections to contraceptions that don’t take the life of a developing human,” Dys said.

In the lawsuit, filed on June 21 with United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, Holland is suing various agencies and individuals who serve the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Labor and the Department of the Treasury. The complaint claims the defendants have full knowledge that many organizations and business owners share the same beliefs as Holland but “have issued regulations imposing the government mandate on such citizens and organizations and requiring them to provide the objectionable coverage [the mandate].”

Pamela Van Horn, a spokesperson for the West Virginia Planned Parenthood, told WSAZ on the phone Tuesday the mandate comes as welcome news for pro-choice advocates.

“Women should have access to all forms of birth control, whether it be condoms, the pill, the patch, an IUD or even a high-dose birth control pill, what we call the ‘morning after pill,’ which does not end pregnancy but prevents it,” Van Horn said.

The suit references “the possibility of a narrow exemption” for certain religious employers, including organizations that operate as churches or employ people who share similar religious believes. The complaint acknowledges the exception may not extend to the dealership, but it does point out that the final rule does not impose constraints on the government’s ability to exempt organizations from certain requirements.

The dealership also claims in its suit that the mandate prohibits its rights to the First Amendment.

If Holland refuses to follow the mandate, the dealership could face steep fines. Holland’s lawyers told WSAZ the fine is $100 per day per employee. So with 150 employees, Holland could be responsible for up to $15,000 per day.

—    Broc Smith

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